How journey mapping improves your employee experience

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Steve Bennetts

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Many employee experience programs still start and end with an employee engagement survey — an annual activity that looks to understand the state of employee engagement and the impact of different drivers upon it.

Now think about your own experience at work compared to those around you. Some people will have only recently started. Others will have been around for a long time. And everyone will have had their own unique experience, from onboarding through to training and when they reached certain milestones. This is the same situation every time the next survey comes around.

In short, everyone is at a different stage in the employee journey.

With an annual or biannual survey it’s almost impossible to understand how personal experiences shape the key outcomes of employee experience like engagement, motivation, or productivity.

Increasingly, organisations are taking a lifecycle approach to employee experience that looks to capture feedback and insights at every stage of the employee journey.

Journey Mapping

It allows businesses to understand the moments that matter most to employees, how these impact the experience, and what they can do at each stage to have a positive impact on metrics like engagement, attrition, and productivity.

For example, the Qualtrics State of Play: Employee Engagement in Australia and New Zealand found the top drivers of satisfaction among employees are feeling happy with your current work-life balance, confidence in your current company's senior leadership team, having the right equipment available to do your job and a manager who consistently acknowledges you for good work.

Understand the moments that matter to employees

Much like CX professionals map out the customer journey to identify pain points and areas for improvement, HR teams can plot the end-to-end journey for employees to start to understand how each stage impacts their experience as a whole.

From recruitment all the way through to exit, it allows you to plot out every moment that matters and understand what you can do to improve the experience.

Here’s how to start building your employee journey:

  1. SEGMENT YOUR EMPLOYEES Throughout the organisation you’re likely to have plenty of different employee personas, and their interactions with the company will be very different. The first step in this process is identifying your employee segments. Ideally it should be based on their interactions with the company rather than demographics like age and gender, which should be splits you look at in the data later rather than as a guiding principle for your personas as within those demographics there will be plenty of variance in the experience.For example, an engineer is likely to have a very different experience from someone in your marketing team —
  2. ESTABLISH THE JOURNEY FOR EACH PERSONA Now you know your personas you can start to map out the interactions they have with the business, from their first contact, which for most is before they’re hired, all the way through to their last day with the company. You’ll need to bring in a cross-functional team to input on this as different teams and departments will likely have different interactions along the way. You may even want to consider looking at the interactions post-exit as in some cases retirees or past employees may come back or have an interaction with the organisation later on or act as advocates.
  3. MAP FEEDBACK AND INSIGHTS TO THE EMPLOYEE JOURNEY To truly understand the impact of each interaction on the employee experience you need to be able to map feedback to each stage in the lifecycle.  For each persona make sure there is a feedback mechanism attached to each stage in the journey that meets employees where they are and provides an opportunity to give feedback in the moment. This is much more useful than waiting up to 12 months to ask employees about it as you’ll get the most honest, useful feedback while the experience is still fresh in their mind. It also means you can respond to it in a suitable time frame, rather than months down the line when the issue is no longer relevant.
  4. ALIGN YOUR MEASUREMENTS AT DIFFERENT STAGES IN THE EMPLOYEE JOURNEY It’s likely that different stages in the journey will be managed by different teams. For example, your recruiting, training or onboarding teams. In order to link insights across the journey, you need to make sure that everyone agrees on a consistent approach to measurement, whether that’s using a simple metric like eNPS with open-text follow-up questions or something like a 5-point likert scale. If every team follows the same approach it’s much easier to bring insights together into a holistic data set and start to make connections to see how the experience at one touchpoint impacts others.
  5. USE AUTOMATION TO MANAGE FEEDBACK AT SCALE Manually sending out a survey every time someone takes a training course, goes for promotion, or interacts with any of the other moments that matter along the journey is a drain on resources.  Make sure you integrate your employee experience program with your HRIS and set up triggers to automatically send a request for feedback when an employee hits a certain milestone.
  6. COMBINE THE EMPLOYEE JOURNEY WITH YOUR ENGAGEMENT SURVEY A lifecycle approach to employee experience doesn’t mean giving up on your employee engagement survey altogether. In fact, the engagement survey should be your cornerstone — a less frequent, but more in-depth view of the state of employee experience and the key drivers that are impacting it either positively or negatively. Many businesses choose to do shorter, more frequent surveys, like bi-annual engagement check-ins or monthly employee pulse reports. However you run it, it’s essential you connect it to your feedback mechanisms across the lifecycle.

An example of how employee journey mapping combined with data from an employee engagement survey can be seen in the onboarding process.  On its own, employee journey mapping will likely show you how your onboarding process is perceived and what can be improved. But it won’t necessarily show the impact on engagement, productivity or attrition. When you combine it with your engagement survey (which does measure these things) you can then start to see connections. For instance, how did that improvement to onboarding affect engagement for employees in their first year? Did it reduce attrition? Did it promote cross-functional collaboration? It’s only by connecting all these different feedback mechanisms that you’ll know the answer.

To learn more around how you can build a culture of employee feedback, watch the Qualtrics Employee Experience Masterclass. In this four-part EX Masterclass webinar series Qualtrics will also help you communicate with employees through the right channels and systems, utilise best practices for building a full-lifecycle Employee Experience (EX) program, and grow and scale your EX program.


Qualtrics is the technology platform that organisations use to collect, manage, and act on experience data, also called X-data™. The Qualtrics XM Platform™ is a system of action, used by teams, departments, and entire organisations to manage the four core experiences of business—customer, product, employee and brand—on one platform. Over 9,000 enterprises worldwide, including more than 75 percent of the Fortune 100 and 99 of the top 100 U.S. business schools, rely on Qualtrics to consistently build products that people love, create more loyal customers, develop a phenomenal employee culture, and build iconic brands.

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